Monday, July 8, 2013

She's 3 Today

Three years ago today I met my daughter and her birthmom for the first time. I wrote this on Xio's birthday, but I share today as today is a special day for all of us and one I will never forget. As I watched Xiomara's birthmom so beautifully hand us her daughter and then walk away sobbing, my heart broke in half and I promised to do my part in allowing her to be a part of Xiomara's life. This is one little way I can do that.

Dear J,

Our daughter is three today. Three sweet and precious years old. Can you believe it?

That teeny, tiny, precious baby is definitely more grown up now (although thankfully not all grown up). Instead she is talking, running, tantruming, pottying, singing, dancing, and making us laugh daily.

She's been talking a lot about you lately. Asking me questions, or just declaring random things. Tonight at dinner, Xio declared, "My birf (birth) mommy gave birf to me in a bath tub". I told her the story of her birth again (although it wasn't in a bath tub), and then I showed her pictures of you and pictures of her. She sat there staring at the bright screen with her thumb in her mouth mesmerized, and probably a bit confused at it all.

I'm thankful she is free to ask questions. I'm thankful I have so many answers, thanks to you.

On this day I always think and pray for you, maybe a bit more so than others. I know as a mama, that birthdays are special and a mom never forgets the birth of her child. I'm hoping by now you received the package in the mail filled with pictures and a DVD. I'm thinking hearing her voice for the first time may be a balm for your soul.

Today the plan was to take her swimming as she is a little fishy, but we had rain here and it made it so we just stayed home and played (she liked it anyway). She wants vanilla cupcakes with chocolate frosting for her birthday cake and has asked me all day long when she gets to eat her cupcake! :)

I'm so thankful for her, J! I know I've said it a million times, but I'll say it again, I never knew joy until she came. She brings a certain spunk and happiness to our whole family. I know one day, you will get to experience that yourself, but for now, just keep cherishing these memories and these moments, in your heart.

We always love you and thank you on this day, as we do each day. Kisses from afar from your little girl.

With much love...

Thursday, May 2, 2013

An Update and An Interview

I know it's been a little while since I've's how life goes and you can always catch up more on my life, or see pictures on our family blog.

In the meantime, I wanted to let you all know that I was interviewed for an article on Going Into Debt for In Vitro or Adoption: Is It Worth It? Feel free to check it out, but know that my name is not Kirsten; I promise it's Vanessa! :) Edited: It's been updated correctly to Vanessa.

The post should be syndicated on The Huffington Post at some point, so look for it there, and I'll come back and add the link when it finally is! Edited: Here it is!  It was an honor to be interviewed and just showed me once again how God was in control of our debt free adoption, and not us as He wanted this story told to a million people or more. Please note that while the article states we took out a small loan, what it failed to mention, is that the loan was paid off almost immediately after we adopted Xiomara. I just wanted to mention that in case anyone was confused by that statement!

He has pretty incredible plans for our little girl! Speaking of her, I couldn't share an update without a picture and a little bit about what life is like for her right now. Xiomara is all two right now. That means she is into everything. Her newest adventures include coloring over her dolls with pens, crawling up on the bathroom sink to play with the water, and every once and awhile throwing herself on the floor in a tantrum. She honestly spends most of her days smiling and laughing! She is talking a ton now and repeats a lot of what we say, or what her older sisters say. She hasn't quite mastered potty training, but with summer and her third birthday coming up, mommy is going to work on it with her. She finally ditched her paci, only to replace it with her thumb. While it sure is cute, I'm pretty sure it's worse to have a thumb sucker as I can't get rid of her thumb!

Everyday with her is a joy and I can't imagine my life without her. I'm looking forward to watching her grow into the amazing girl, and one day woman, God is already forming her into.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Dear Yahoo Shine and Elise Solé,

I'm sure many women out there appreciate your article on how super models are the most physically insecure women on the planet. I'm sure it felt wonderful to know that we "normal" women aren't the only ones who feel too fat, that our hair isn't perfectly coiffed, or that we have some body part that just isn't measuring up to the super model standard. I'm sure to an average woman, it felt wonderful knowing that we are not alone. Instead we are amongst the super models in this one area of our lives. We are all insecure.

However, I am not an average woman.

You see while you, Elise, took from model Cameron Russell's talk that models are insecure, I took from it that my bi-racial daughter has a less than 4% chance of ever becoming a model. It's not that I have high dreams that she will become one, but it's the fact that she is part African American that will potentially bar her from being what she may want to be one day. Meanwhile, my two Caucasian daughters have a 96% chance of becoming a model if the genetic lottery plays in their favor.

Something is wrong with that.

Outside of briefly mentioning Cameron's quote: "I am on this stage because I am a pretty white woman and in my industry we call that a 'sexy girl'", your article did not focus on what America needs to hear so that change can happen.

America needs to hear that Cameron didn't focus on her insecurity as a model. Rather a good portion of her talk was on how racial inequality plays a role in our society today. She talked about:

-How we have defined beauty as white skin.
-Last year (2011) in New York City, of the 140,000 teenagers that were stopped and frisked 86% of them were Black and Latino and most of them were young men. There are only 177,000 young Black and Latino men in New York City, so for them it's not a question of "Will I get stopped, but how many times will I get stopped? When will I get stopped?".
-How difficult it was for her to unpack a legacy of gender and racial oppression, when she is one of the biggest beneficiaries.

You had an opportunity to open America's eyes to this inequality, and yet, you chose instead to focus on a small piece of her talk. One that most likely won't cause controversy because we can all agree to feeling insecure at times.

But I won't ignore that racial inequality. Perhaps, as a white woman, I would have focused on the insecurity part of her talk. However, all of that changed in 2010 when I became a white mama to my bi-racial daughter. I can no longer pretend I didn't hear the facts about inequality in Cameron's talk. Because if I do so, one day my daughter will ask me why I didn't fight harder for her to have the same privilege as her white sisters do. I would have to answer her honestly, that I turned away from it and chose to ignore it because it's too controversial of a battle to fight. It's too large. It's too hard.

On that Tuesday when I became a mama to my daughter, I promised her first mom that I would fight for her. That I would not let the color of her skin change what she can do in this life. In making that promise to her first mom, I made that same promise to my beautiful Xiomara.

Thus I write this letter to you. The Xiomara's of this world deserve a chance too. No matter the color of their skin. They deserve to be all that they can and want to be. It's time to talk about it, not just shove it under the controversy rug in feigned ignorance.

In Proverbs it says, "Once our eyes have been opened we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know and holds us responsible to act." Proverbs 24:12

Perhaps Cameron said it best, "There are people paying a cost for how they look and not who they are". I think it's time to do something about it. I only wish I would have known long before I became a mama to a bi-racial daughter. I only wish I would have cared when I was just another privileged white woman.

For now, I'm just going to wait on the world to change.